The stakes were high when the Judicial Council of California began shopping a couple of years ago for a disaster recovery (DR) and data backup solution for the state’s courts. Criminal case files are not just job-critical — for many in the system, they’re life-critical. Couple that high-risk need with an extremely long, challenging RFP process that involved nearly 30 vendors, and this was a recipe for a potentially stressful experience.

But there were positive factors at play, too: The contract was awarded in April 2018, two years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many workers in the private and public sectors to work remotely. The vendor that was ultimately chosen, InterVision Systems Technologies, already had a key partner in mind with whom it had worked successfully on past projects.

“We were the last man standing,” said Scott Drossos of El Dorado Hills, the chief operating officer for InterVision, which is based in Santa Clara and St. Louis. “It’s essentially a five-year contract — two years up-front with three one-year renewals. We’re finishing our second year and about to start our first of the renewal years.” The contract was for roughly $300,000 for the first two years.

“Within that contract,” Drossos told Techwire, “we are the partner and the reseller. So we were the consulting expert for implementing the cloud-based DR, and we also kind of brought together the pieces of the puzzle, whether it was a DR or backup appliance or software that was part of our solution. That was our responsibility.”

For that product, the courts followed InterVision’s recommendation and chose Rubrik.

“We had an early relationship with Rubrik, and this was one of those contracts that allowed us to cultivate that relationship further,” Drossos said. “We resell Rubrik, we implement Rubrik, and we build the cloud architecture and we implement the cloud architecture with that Rubrik solution.”

Rick Walery, IT director for San Mateo County courts, began working on the project in early spring of 2018 with a company called Infiniti Consulting Group of Folsom. About six months later, Infiniti was bought by InterVision, Drossos went from president of Infiniti to COO of InterVision, and InterVision inherited the contract.

“One of the things we like to do in the court system is try to leverage the work across the branch,” Walery told Techwire in an interview. “So ... instead of 58 courts doing their own thing, we try to set up agreements that the whole group of us can leverage. The Monterey County court did an RFP where we were able to select a couple of vendors that could help us in our DR and backup strategy, and then sourcing that. So that was one good thing in this project. Out of the RFP, it was Infiniti, and it was nice working with them because we didn’t have to go out and do our own RFP. We could kind of select that vendor, and then we worked with them to evaluate backup vendors.”

Joe Carrasco, IT manager for infrastructure for the San Mateo courts, agreed with Walery.

“We evaluated all of the vendors — they did presentations and some demos. We liked what Rubrik had to offer. We liked the fact that it is a single throat to choke if there were issues — it’s a single product; it wasn’t storage from one vendor and software from another. It was integrated. We also liked the way it mirrored the Nutanix approach to implementation in terms of its block-based architecture and how it can be expanded easily if we need to add additional nodes or additional capacity. We’re a Nutanix customer as well, and one important capability that we were looking for was direct compatibility with AHV (Nutanix's Acropolis Hypervisor). … We’re also VMware customers, so compatibility with that was also very important. All of the drivers and software that was provided by Rubrik basically just folded right into our infrastructure.”

Walery said that once the contract was awarded to InterVision, “it was a pretty quick engagement. There seemed to be very little work needed to implement it. It did seem a bit plug-and-play to us.”

Although the project was finished before COVID-19 could throw a wrench into the works, there was one significant challenge to overcome: The implementation of the InterVision/Rubrik package hit right in the middle of the San Mateo courts’ migration to the county’s new data center.

“So while we had the equipment, we had to temporarily put it in the old data center and then move it,” Carrasco told Techwire. “There were some complexities associated with that in that we couldn’t provide all the networking that the system really needed at the end, but it worked out just fine. Support from Rubrik was great.”

Walery noted that the speed of Rubrik’s backup function is exponentially faster than what was in place previously. And, he added, it’s friendly.

“The UI is pretty darn straightforward,” he said. “It’s kind of one of those modern UIs that abstracts you from a lot of the complexity.”

File restoration is also much faster under the Rubrik solution, Carrasco added.

“In the past, if I had to do an individual file restore, I would mount the file system and click a folder and I would wait about 30 seconds for it to expand, and if the file I was looking for was deep, I could be there for 15 minutes, hunting around in the structure. Now, that’s a very seamless thing that happens very quickly since all the data’s been indexed.”

Dan Raynes of Rubrik, a Rocklin-based veteran of IT sales, acknowledged that his competitors might be less expensive.

“Our technology is built in such a way that we’re immune to ransomware — it can’t get into our backups,” Raynes said. “We’re not the cheapest technology. But customers buy it because of the savings in operational costs.”

Raynes also asserted that Rubrik can save governments from ransomware attacks, in which a hacker will encrypt a government database unless a ransom is paid.

“For ransomware, with people working remote and COVID scammers, how does Rubrik factor into that?” Raynes said. “We offer the ability to recover any data. Things that take hours, we can do in two minutes or less. New versions of ransomware are going after backup data. If I can encrypt the data that’s backed up and you can’t recover it, you pay my ransom.” Rubrik resists such unwanted encryption, he said.

Walery said that, given the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing cuts and uncertainties about the state budget, it’s a good thing this contract was awarded when it was.

“The budget is just going to be a total mess for the courts and the whole state over the next several years,” he said, “so being able to source this … when times were better was also a good thing. If we were going for this ask in this current fiscal year — maybe, but it would have been a much harder sell. Now we’re in survival mode rather than go-forward mode.”

Raynes and Drossos both said they plan to try to expand their shared footprint to the other counties in the state, as well.

“Placer County Superior Court bought it in December, and Santa Clara County bought it last month,” Raynes said.